As a cancer survivor, I'm surprised at the number of times people ask, "Are we winning the war on Cancer?"
Advances made in cancer research and treatments are making a difference, but I still think there's a long way to go. It's not a yes or no question and unfortunately most people immediately assume failure when the answer isn't a definitive "YES." I know we're making great strides in the war on cancer - I'm living proof.
In a recent report by US News & World Report, it seems the "war on cancer" gets mixed reviews. Dr. Samuel Broder wrote an excellent article outlining the progress and pitfalls in: "Health Advice: Why is our Progress against Cancer so slow?" The mortality rates across the board have decreased since the mid-90's, with one exception: rates from women's lung cancers have remained stable. Based on numbers alone, one could surmise we are "winning the war," however progress is still viewed with a sense of pessimism and defeatism.
I learned a very important lesson from this piece:
Perhaps we should reframe the way we view the "war on cancer."
Like Dr. Broder suggests, the discourse is inflammatory and simplistic; it leads us to believe it's a win or lose situation. It's much more complicated than that. Progress is incremental at best, and we are, indeed, making progress. However, the cycle of research, clinical trials, and implementation is much longer in actuality. It take years to find drugs that help address one small part of the cancer crisis. The "war on cancer" is essentially a series of baby steps. Research, trial, treat.... rinse and repeat. Victory is still not in our sights, but we're getting closer.
Years ago, I stopped referring to the search for more cancer treatments as the "War on Cancer." I know from experience there's still much to do. As a cancer activist, I'm hoping the research community uncovers more treatments in the years ahead. Until then, it's up to us to do as much as we can to encourage and support those dealing with the everyday realities of a cancer diagnosis.
The article suggests a few ways we can all help make advances in the cancer community:
- Help expand research initiatives
- Encourage more private businesses to engage in this community
- Encourage cross-discpline research
- individualize and maximize treatments options
- Apply today's knowledge and experiences NOW
- Build a better community: focus on community service and outreach
As cancer activists, we can all work to build a better community and expand our reach to all populations dealing with cancer. Let's work on this together!
Do you find that members of your community refer to the "War on Cancer"?
How do you feel about advances in cancer research and treatments? Are we making a difference?
What's the best way to reframe this conversation?
How can you reach out to more people in the cancer community to help reinforce the progress?
Let me know what you think!
Originally posted on www.wegohealth.com